Today’s NYT editorial, “President Obama’s Dragnet,’ which condemns Obama’s routine collection of data on all phone calls that Americans make, is followed on the NYT web site with an insightful comment, by a “Scott W” in Chapel Hill, NC:
“Scott W Chapel Hill, NC In the end, this has nothing to do with preventing terrorism, but is a paranoid government’s attempt to control a society destined to revolt against increasing inequality. The “bad guys” are ALL of us and that is why we all are being spied on. Every last legislator, and executive branch member who supports this terrorism on our right to privacy should be thrown out of office, if not ultimately prosecuted. June 7, 2013 at 6:50 a.m”
The Government Wants Us To Know It Spies On Us
I would add that what the ruling class is aiming at, with these occasional “leaks” about its spying on us, is not so much to collect information about us but rather to make us feel so totally spied upon that we will be afraid to do or say anything we know the government doesn’t want us to do or say. The reason the East German Communist regime let East Germans know that the Stasi secret police used informants to spy on them was to make people worry that if they said anything anti-establishment to anybody, even a close family member, they might be reported to the government and punished severely. The government’s aim was to preemptively prevent people from expressing anti-establishment views, not to catch those who did.
The effectiveness of the spying on us that our government does is, therefore, determined not by how much or what kind of information it collects, but how many people (especially the more anti-establishment ones) it causes to remain silent and inactive. To be effective, people must know that the spying is being done. And to be even more effective it is better if people think that there is probably a lot more spying being done than the “tip of the iceberg” they hear about from “leaks.” This is why the ruling class wants “leaks” about its spying, especially “leaks” that make it seem as if the revelations about the spying were obtained with difficulty from a government that wants to keep its spying a secret. This way people will think there is even more invasive spying being done that just hasn’t been “leaked” yet. It may be that the Obama administration is actually happy that the NYT condemned its spying, because now more people are aware of the spying and worried that what they know is just the tip of the iceberg.
Respond To The Spying By Being Even More Openly Revolutionary
Our response to government spying should be to build a mass revolutionary movement by talking to people openly about the need for, the aims of, and the possibility of revolution. When huge numbers of people are doing this, it won’t matter if the government knows our names or has infiltrators inside our organizations; it won’t do the government any good. When the British King George III lost the colonies and the French King Louis XVI lost his head, and the Shah of Iran fled the country and the Czar of Russia abdicated, it wasn’t because they didn’t know the names of the revolutionaries!When our revolutionary organizations are small, then we should still openly build the revolutionary movement, while assuming that the government has informants infiltrating our organizations and acting accordingly. The reason the government doesn’t arrest us today is not because it doesn’t know who we are; it is because it knows that if it started arresting people who are known by others in their community to be people who should not be arrested, then the government will lose legitimacy that it needs. Government agents provacateurs will try to persuade us to do things that will make it easier for the government to persuade our community that we are “enemies of the people.” This is why we should always act in a manner that makes it clear to our community that the government’s lies about us are lies. We don’t do this, however, by going silent out of fear of being eavesdropped on, but by doing the opposite. We should openly champion the positive values of equality and mutual aid shared by most people, and say we need a revolution to shape all of society by these values. Government spying and repression are inevitable. By explaining the true reason why the government spies on and represses people—that it considers ordinary people and their values to be the enemy—we can build the revolutionary movement. This is how to make the ruling class pay the maximum price for its oppressive actions: hastening the day when it is removed from power with a revolution.